Rao’s makes one of our favorite pasta sauces you can buy at the grocery store. So you can imagine my excitement when I hit the Fancy Food Show this past summer and learned that the brand was going to be launching a line of jarred, ready-to-heat, Italian-style soups. I got to try a few that day and have been waiting patiently for more ever since. Well, today is my lucky day. Actually it’s your lucky day too, because the soups are officially hitting stores across the country — starting now.
There are six different soups in the line: Italian Chicken Noodle, Vegetable Minestrone, Italian Wedding, Tomato Basil, Pasta & Fagioli, and Chicken & Gnocchi. Each soup consists of slow-simmered stock with high-quality add-ins (like real vegetables, soft-but-not-too-mushy noodles, and antibiotic-free chicken). Honestly, they’re all amazing, but I had one clear favorite.
Note: Each 16-ounce jar costs $4.99 (although I found three of them at Walmart for just $4) and is meant to be a single serving. While that’s a lot to pay for a single jar of soup, it doesn’t seem bad when you compare it (especially the quality) to soup from a lunch place or even a supermarket’s hot bar. I can totally see stocking these jars for an an emergency pantry dinner or a quick lunch at the office during the winter.
Keep reading for official reviews of each new soup.
Pasta & Fagioli
This soup — Italian tomato broth with navy beans, dark red kidney beans, ditalini pasta, carrots, celery, and Parmesan cheese — felt very fancy for something that just came out of a jar. When I poured it all out into a pot (I simmered all of these on the stovetop, but you could also just put them in a bowl and microwave), I loved that all the very real ingredients piled up on top of each other in one big mound. I could actually see the beans! When it was time to eat, I mixed up the soup and got a varied spoonful with every dunk. Thanks for not skimping, Rao’s! (Also, my very Italian husband said he loved that the broth was more flavorful than the usual run-of-the-mill tomato base.)
Buy: Rao’s Pasta & Fagioli, $4 for 16 ounces at Walmart
Speaking of not skimping! Rao’s Chicken Noodle is almost more chicken and noodle than it is broth! While the chicken is flavorful and plentiful, the fusilli pasta is definitely on the softer side, which I actually prefer, depending on my mood. I just so happened to be sick when I was taste testing this (yay?) and it really hit the spot. While I would have loved to have made my Bubbie’s chicken noodle soup, it was far easier to open a jar and treat myself to this hearty Italian version.
Probably my favorite vegetable minestrone to ever come off a grocery store shelf, this stuff tastes pretty close to a homemade version. It’s loaded with carrots, celery, onions, ditalini pasta, potatoes, zucchini, peas, green beans, red kidney beans, and chickpeas. In the future, I’d probably make some extra tomato broth and mix it with a jar, just so that I can get more servings out of it.
Another super-comforting soup to try while sick! The chicken broth is good (I did add more salt) and the flavor is all there. I found the meatballs to be a little soft, but I didn’t really think it was a bad thing — especially when eaten as part of a spoonful with the little balls of pasta and tender veggies.
Buy: Rao’s Italian Wedding Soup, $4 for 16 ounces at Walmart
This was, hands-down, my favorite. Maybe because it’s basically Rao’s pasta sauce in soup form? To make it, the folks at Rao’s simmer whole peeled tomatoes with carrots, celery, onion, basil, and garlic. And love? It definitely tastes like this soup was made with love. I can already see a long winter filled with lots of Rao’s Tomato Basil soup paired with buttery grilled cheese sandwiches.
Chicken & Gnocchi
Truthfully, I was a little skeptical about this one. I figured the gnocchi would be mushy after sitting in the jar, but I was wrong. The soup is creamy (it’s made with cream, so it’s not like straight chicken broth) and the gnocchi has a nice bite to it. The soup also has decent pieces of chicken, carrots, onions, spinach, and celery. I did find myself wishing it had a bit more flavor, so I added some salt and pepper.
Buy: Rao’s Chicken & Gnocchi, $4 for 16 ounces at Walmart
Which one are you most excited to try?
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